How do you change a culture without truth? It cannot be done. People are too quick to believe a lie, especially if they have been told it is the truth. Let me illustrate this for you: In 1990 I was one of the first missionaries to enter Albania after the Communist “wall” came down. Before the fall of communism, Albania was the most closed society on earth. It was the only communist bloc country with a totally atheist constitution. People of any religious faith were hunted down and executed or imprisoned.
Pastor Sam Friend and I came to the capital city of Tirana as soon as we could obtain a visa. On the first day of our visit, I went to the University of Tirana to attend an English class, in hopes of finding students capable of speaking English. The students had never met an American and were very excited by the prospect of using their “English” to speak with me.
You can feel the excitement
in their faces over these Bibles!
I had done this before, so I asked the students what they knew of the West and who were their “heroes?” They eagerly began raising hands and volunteering names they had secretly seen on Italian TV. So, I began writing the names of their heroes, idols and sports figures on the blackboard. Names like Michael Jackson and many others were mentioned. Then, after much laughter and fun, I told them I was going to write the name of my hero on the blackboard. I wrote in big letters, “JESUS CHRIST.” I then asked the class what they knew about my hero. To my amazement, the class became very quiet, and there was a long pause, as the class seemed to question if they could answer me. Eventually, a lovely young lady named Tirana (after the capital city) stood to her feet and looking around, said in a soft voice, “I have never spoken His name in public. It has been forbidden in my lifetime. We know nothing about Jesus Christ.” So, can you imagine my joy at being given this opportunity to tell them the good news-news they had never heard? Not all the class was receptive, because their culture and professors were atheist, but there was one young man in class that day who WAS listening.
Meet Zefzan. He was a freshman student whose grandmother had a hidden Bible she kept secreted away under a loose board in the stairway in her home. As Zef was growing up, his Christian grandmother read stories of Jesus to him as a child. God had His almighty hand on Zefzan’s life. When Communism collapsed in Albania, one week before I arrived, Campus Crusade had come to Tirana and shown the Jesus film. Zef and a few friends from the university saw the film.
After the English class was dismissed, young Zef followed us outside, and introduced himself. Pastor Sam and I invited him to dine with us at our nearby hotel. After eating, Zef came with us to our room where Zef prayed to invite Christ into his life. God’s Word had penetrated his heart and he was wondrously saved. Now for the rest of the story!
Sam Friend and I began to mentor Zef through the mail and any other means possible. He grew into a man of God. Today he is a leading evangelical pastor in Albania and is influential through out Eastern Europe.
It all began with his grandmother’s Bible. Thank God she had one! Praise God she believed it, read it, and mentored her grandchildren with it. Today there is a thriving church in ALBANIA. My point is direct and simple- God’s Word is living, active, and life changing.
If you attended church in any small village in Africa, you would be shocked at how few adults own a Bible. In most cases not 10 people out of 100 will own a Bible in their language. When you contrast that with America, it is a very inequitable situation. This year, I have dedicated myself to equipping 400 African pastors with a Study Bible they can use to change their culture. How many Bibles do you have in your home? Probably more than one. That’s OK, unless we are not concerned that others have none.
Help us train pastors in Africa. Donate one, two or twenty Bibles. They cost BWM $20 each. Donate what you can, please. There just might be another Zefzan out there somewhere.